Disclaimer: This game is a work in progress. It may suck!”
Final Boss Entertainment felt it necessary to include this message on the title screen for Wrack, an arcade-style shooter for PC. The game is available as an early access title on Steam for $14.99.
Using the disclaimer as a reminder to players is an understandable feature. As a whole, people applaud a bit of self-deprecation—we can infer that Wrack doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it lowers expectations a little.
But self-deprecation can backfire. As a whole, Wrack is a game that lacks confidence. It’s afraid to do anything new. It’s essentially cel-shaded Doom, and it definitely captures the retro feel of the early fast-paced FPS perfectly. However, it doesn’t offer much originality beyond it’s eccentric graphics.
This isn’t the type of game you play for its plot, but here goes: Wrack is set in the far future when humanity has tapped into a new energy source that leads to world peace. Just as the game opens, the protagonist, Kain, is actively doubting the lasting peace and lamenting the planet’s lack of an army. And wouldn’t you know it, aliens invade immediately.
The game’s plot consists of character panels popping up with text for their dialogue. There’s currently no voice acting in the game. This wouldn’t be a problem, but the characters are surprisingly verbose, which leads to lots of reading. Get your literacy out of my Doom clone!
But you aren’t playing this game for the plot. You’re playing it to relive your childhood . When I say Wrack is cel-shaded Doom, that’s not an exaggeration for editorial purposes. It’s also not a criticism.
Wrack is a great Doom experience. Your character flies across the map grabbing armor pickups and blasting swarms of enemies. The game even promises player-created maps. If that’s all you expect out of the game, you’ll enjoy the experience it has to offer.
Unfortunately, if you’re looking for anything more than a nostalgia high, you’re going to leave disappointed. While Wrack does fast-paced arcade shooter well, it also doesn’t do anything new with its gameplay. Peel away its cel-shaded visuals and you’re left with a shallow game.
The game’s controls were the first hint that Wrack wasn’t looking to innovate much. It’s 2013, yet the game offers only the most basic of player controls. There’s nothing original here, and it even lacks simple mechanics like a secondary fire for weapons.
Wrack is a game that would benefit enormously from a multiplayer mode. It would be a great game to play to kill some time with a friend or two, and a multiplayer mode would do more to justify the game’s price. A $15 price tag just doesn’t suit a single-player-only version of Wrack, in my opinion.
Keep in mind that Wrack is a work in progress. Features could be added that greatly improve the game, but as it stands, Wrack expertly captures the atmosphere and gameplay of the early arcade shooter. However, like its disclaimer suggests, Wrack lacks the confidence to try anything new. But the developers were at least wrong on one point: it doesn’t suck.